Clayton’s Robert Chislett of Chisel-It Ice Creates Ice Masterpieces (updated January 2018)
by David King
Neither San Francisco 49ers nor the Oakland Raiders made it to Superbowl 50. But Clayton’s Robert Chislett did. Robert is an ice sculptor, one of an elite crowd of ice artists in the country. He has been called upon to prepare several ice sculptures for the iconic events and associated parties. That alone is a pretty convincing endorsement — Robert is a local resident we should know more about.
Robert and family live in Clayton. He plays in the Clayton Bocce League and is a good member to have on your team. On one occasion, Robert brought one of his sculpted drink luges. It was beautiful, big, and fun. A drink luge is a sculpture whereby you pour your liquid in one end, and as the drink (often vodka) passes through the ice sculpture, becomes chilled and is released into the glass, or sometimes straight into the mouth.
That’s the night I became aware of Robert Chislett. I saw a beautifully sculpted piece of art with the functionality of a frat house party favor. Several members of several teams were appreciating his work of art that night at bocce, sometimes returning for several “looks”.
Robert is a 1991 graduate of the CIA (Culinary Institute of America) in New York. While going to culinary school, Robert and some friends learned of an ice sculpting course. They drove four hours every Sunday to learn the fine art of sculpting. That’s four hours each way for 15 weeks. His teacher was world renowned and champion ice sculptor Vivat Hongpong.
After he graduated from culinary school, Robert worked several chef jobs on jets, yachts and exclusive events. He also traveled with Vivat and helped with his ice sculpting, but more for the learning and experience, not for money. Vivat was his master and mentor. (At this point, I’m visualizing “Snatch the ice cube from my hand grasshopper.”)
Robert got married, and in 1995, he and his wife visited her dad who lives in Clayton. “I just thought this area was so beautiful.” He said. So they moved from New York to Clayton. In 1998, Robert finally branched out on his own and started Chisel-It Ice. With the last name Chislett, it was a perfect name, as if this was his destiny all along.
His first large job came soon afterward. He created 10 large ice Bacardi bottles for a Hollywood actor’s party. So far, no project has been too big, no sculpture too large. He has sculpted a full-size convertible Lexus, a piano, palaces, and currently, he’s working on a stagecoach. Each is an intricately detailed masterpiece.
His sculptures can be customized to fit anyone’s needs. Each project begins with a discussion of the client when requesting an estimate. His designers begin with a digital rendering that incorporates his ideas and the clients. There are very few companies in the Bay Area who provide ice sculpting.
“What distinguishes us from others is our collaboration in the creative process with the client,” Robert says. Robert makes his own ice blocks. His tools are chainsaws, chipping tools, torches and a 12’x12’ freezer. The rest is up to the creative mind and hands of the artist and a small team of designers.
Chisel-It does many, many corporate events, weddings, and of course, the Holiday season is extremely busy, up to 20 deliveries in a day. Last year he sculpted for the NBA finals and now has been called upon by Levi Stadium offices to prepare several carvings for the Superbowl 50.
Clayton should hold Robert in high regard. Anybody good enough for the most iconic sporting event in America is good enough for us. His business card reads, “Dream It, We’ll Chisel It.” Visit his gallery online at www.chisel-it.com. Even if you don’t need an ice sculpture, you will be amazed.